The Flat Piercing: Everything You Need to Know
When it comes to modern fashion, cartilage piercings have become the must-have accessory of the 2020s. The ear cartilage offers a unique canvas upon which you can “paint” a plethora of piercing options. While some crave a cultivated look—especially one that emulates their favorite constellation—others love a more eclectic style, filling their ears to the brim with beautiful cartilage jewelry.
Once you’ve gotten a few cartilage piercings done, you might be struggling to figure out where your next piercing should be placed. Looking for the newest addition to your cartilage party? Check out the flat piercing.
What Exactly is a Flat Piercing?
Located in the flat area of cartilage below the upper rim of the ear (the helix) and the flap of cartilage where the rook is located, the flat piercing provides a large area for unique piercing placement. It looks fantastic on its own or combined with other cartilage piercings, like the forward helix or auricle.
However, the flat piercing, like other cartilage piercings, is not an easy piercing to get. Cartilage heals differently than other fleshier areas. Blood flow is an essential part of healing, and since cartilage is avascular, it takes a long time to heal.
Before you get a flat piercing, you need to understand how cartilage heals and make sure that you are able to commit to the entire healing process. Here’s everything you need to know.
How Painful is a Flat Piercing?
Cartilage piercings, in general, tend to hurt more than other piercings. Although it would seem otherwise, piercing thinner cartilage tends to hurt more than piercing thicker cartilage. Therefore, the flat piercing is on the higher end of the pain scale compared to other piercings.
If you have a low pain tolerance, it doesn’t bar you from getting this piercing. Make sure that you eat and drink some water before the procedure to give your body the energy it needs. Choose an experienced piercer who will walk you through the process, tell you when to breathe, and who can do the procedure quickly and smoothly. The pain level of your piercing will greatly depend upon your piercer’s expertise, so choose wisely.
How Long Does a Flat Piercing Take to Heal?
The flat piercing will take at least 6 months to heal, but it could take as long as 9 months to one year. The key to shortening your healing is committing to proper aftercare practices, getting enough rest and taking care of your body, and leaving the flat piercing jewelry alone.
Your flat piercing will appear healed before it’s actually fully done healing. Because of this, you should always have a piercer confirm that your flat piercing has fully healed before changing jewelry and stopping aftercare practices. Failure to do so could result in trauma to the piercing site that could prolong healing.
Flat Piercing Aftercare
Since cartilage is more susceptible to infection, you must commit to daily aftercare practices. Although this is important for all piercings, it’s especially important for cartilage piercings due to the long healing times. Cartilage tends to see higher cases of piercing bumps, scars, and other side effects, and committing to proper aftercare is the only way to avoid these problems.
Here are the key things to remember while healing your flat piercing.
Use saline solution or a homemade sea salt solution to clean your piercing 2 - 3 times daily. These cleanses will be the most effective protection against infection and other complications. The easiest way to keep your flat piercing clean is to spritz a fine mist piercing aftercare spray on the front and back of the piercing and either letting it dry or using the cool setting on your hair dryer to speed up the drying process.
Don’t let the jewelry snag. Hypertrophic scarring is a common piercing bump that appears in cartilage piercings. It can occur for many reasons, but a major cause is trauma. Be careful that your hair or clothing doesn’t snag on the jewelry, don’t rotate the jewelry, and never pick at the crusties that accumulate around the piercing. If you feel as though your jewelry is too large, talk to your piercer about switching to a smaller jewelry piece after the initial swelling has gone down.
Only use products that are safe for piercings. Another major cause of hypertrophic scarring is irritation brought about by chemicals. Keep face wash, lotion, sunscreen, shampoo, and any other product away from your piercing. After you shower, make sure that you completely rinse and dry your flat piercing immediately.
What jewelry should I wear in my flat piercing?
The flat piercing exclusively sports cartilage studs with either a bead back or a flat back. However, you can get creative with unique charms and gemstones.
Little dangles coming from the charm of your cartilage stud look adorable in a flat piercing, especially if your flat piercing is located higher up.
When it comes to the jewelry materials, most people opt for titanium in their starter jewelry. The jewelry piece that you first wear will need to be larger in order to accommodate swelling. This means that the first piece of jewelry will only be worn for about a week before your piercer should switch it out for a smaller piece. Titanium is inexpensive and contains almost no alloys, making it an ideal starter jewelry material.
After the initial swelling has gone down, we recommend making the switch to nickel-free 14k gold jewelry. 14k gold contains as few alloys as possible while still being able to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. With proper care, it won’t tarnish as quickly as other metal types, and even a layman can tell the difference between high-quality gold and cheaper jewelry materials.
Why shouldn’t I get a flat piercing?
Cartilage piercings take a long time to heal, and you need to commit to proper aftercare for the entire time. If you can’t commit, then you should stay away from cartilage piercings, in general.
Since cartilage is avascular, it’s more susceptible to infection. If you’re experiencing health problems, or if you tend to get sick easily, keep in mind that this could contribute to your infection risk. This won’t bar you from this piercing, but you do need to be extra-vigilant in your aftercare practices.
How much does a flat piercing cost?
Expect to spend between $40 - $80 for your flat piercing, not including the jewelry.
Make sure that you choose a reputable piercer. If they come at you with a piercing gun, run away. Piercing guns shouldn’t be used for any piercing, but they are especially dangerous to cartilage since cartilage is so brittle.
When you choose your initial jewelry, choose high quality, hypoallergenic metals. 14k gold and implant-grade titanium are popular options. If you start to feel irritation in your new piercing, have your piercer switch to a higher quality metal; you may be having an allergic reaction to an alloy.
What’s the difference between a flat piercing and a Shen men piercing?
Because flat piercings and Shen men piercings appear in a similar area, they are often mistaken for each other. However, there are a couple of key differences.
The Shen men piercing is actually a combination of a flat piercing and a conch piercing. It’s specifically placed around where your rook would take place in the flap of cartilage between the rim of your ear and the flap of cartilage above your ear canal. It’s meant to emulate the look of a rook piercing when ear anatomy is not suitable for a rook piercing.
The Shen men piercing doesn’t need to include the conch piercing. It can just entail the flat piercing above the rook cartilage. However, bear in mind, if you come to the piercing studio asking for a Shen men piercing, it will limit placement to this area, whereas asking for a flat piercing offers a multitude of placement options.
It’s also important to note that the Shen men piercing is known for its acupuncture placement which is meant to reduce anxiety. Any evidence that a piercing has the power to reduce anxiety is purely anecdotal, and we do not recommend piercings as a way to address mental health.
Different types of flat piercings
Depending on the size of the area where the flat piercing takes place, you can get quite creative with placement. Before getting your flat piercing, consider all of the placement options and whether you might want to get a double- or triple-flat piercing in the future.
We love the look of three close-fitted flat piercings (a triple flat piercing) in a triangle. Or, make use of this space when cultivating a super cute constellation piercing. The possibilities are nearly endless.